By Joe Contreras, Latin Life Denver Media
I remember first seeing the Jesus Christ Superstar production in Denver back in the early 1970’s. I don’t think the Denver Center for the Performing Arts was even around back then. I believe it was the Denver Auditorium that hosted theatre productions at that time.
People were calling it scandalous, blasphemy and just about every other negative connotation available. It was banned in several countries and was destined to fail. It was the era of rock, hippies, free love and all the rest. So when Jesus Christ Superstar rolled into town I had to see what all the buzz was about.
The productions depicts the last days of Jesus, mostly holy week, as seen through the eyes of Judas, in an opera, rock and soul musical. Now, celebrating its 50th year in production, this iconic musical phenomenon is back, buoyed by the highly successful 2018 re-imagination that aired as a live concert on NBC and left many critics saying the high-energy staging had set a new standard for live theatrical broadcasts.
I had first heard the music on the radio. Songs like “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” “What’s the Buzz,” “Heaven on their Minds” and the title tune, Jesus Christ Superstar. The legendary concept album hit No. 1 and was awarded the Billboard Album of the Year award. With all that popularity a Broadway play was soon in the works.
I found the heart pounding music, the cast, the staging to be just as vibrant and powerful as the first time I saw this production in the 1970’s. The songs were still all there, just with more intriguing staging. They were all just as enduring and mesmerizing as the first time around. I was pleased to see the music, the songs and the play have endured the test of time. Just as with the bible, I never tire of revisiting the life and times of Jesus Christ. From the first note to the last Jesus Christ Superstar will leave you mesmerized if not astounded at how impactful a play of this enduring magnitude can be.
Applause Magazine: Originally staged by London’s Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre and helmed by the acclaimed director Timothy Sheader (Crazy for You, Into the Woods) and cutting-edge choreographer Drew McOnie (King Kong, Strictly Ballroom), this production won the 2017 Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival garnering unprecedented reviews and accolades. Appealing to both theater audiences and concert music fans, this production pays tribute to the historic 1971 Billboard Album of the Year while creating a modern, theatrical world that is uniquely fresh and inspiring.
Lyrics and music by Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony winners Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jesus Christ Superstar plays the Buell Theatre at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts through January 28th only.
Tickets at denvercenter.org